Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where Are You Christmas?

I have felt a tad like Scrooge this holiday season. Blame it on the weather, given that it was in the high seventies for much of the month. Point fingers at losing two weeks of my December to the whole wisdom teeth debacle that left me scrambling the last couple of days before Christmas to ensure that all the gifts were in order. Chalk it up to three little children who require much attention and have many needs that they can't see to on their own, causing my days to be full of all sorts of busy-ness. Perhaps the problem is simply the growing process: maybe I am just to old for all of the excitement of Christmas.

Yeah, I guess those could all be factors. But really, they played small parts. Teensy parts. Granted, the tooth thing was bigger than I want to give it credit for, because it did sorta throw a wrench in the works. But here's the thing: I did not make time for Christmas. Oh, we got the tree up. We made fudges and cookies and cakes. We read the Christmas story. We even went to Santa's Village (a story all by itself that I might get around to one of these days). On the whole, however, I did not make Christmas happen for my family.

It never occurred to me to talk up Santa Claus, therefore my kids had no idea what Santa was all about. When he showed up at my parents house, the kids were highly skeptical as to what this beefy guy in red was all about. They shied away from the Jolly Old Elf, though they both made quick work of the chocolate bars he handed to them from his sack of goodies. When asked if he wanted to shake hands with Santa, Thomas replied swiftly, 'No, thank you though. I am to shy.' Sarah Grace buried her head in my shoulder, proclaiming she needed me.

While we did make it a point to read the Christmas story to the children, I did not talk to them throughout the day about all that Christ's birth means to us. They soaked in the evening story time, and replayed the previous nights segment in their daily play with the Little People Manger scene. (I liked when Baby Jesus took the Little People school bus to the lake for a ride on the Little People Ark with Noah and Mommy to see Baby John.)

I did not deck the halls of our home. In fact, the tree was up for a week and a half before I finally got lights up on it. The kids helped me make a construction paper chain to adorn the prettiest shaped tree we have ever had, and a handful of candy canes that got tossed up, then taken down one by one for the snacking pleasure of any random person in the house. The decorations sat piled up in boxes off to the side of the tree. I did manage to exhume the Christmas books from the depths of a box and plop them on the piano bench for the kids to sort through. And I graced our windowsills with pictures and Christmas cards sent to us by friends and family. I even sent out Christmas cards.

That was it. I had all these illusions of fun and festive things to do to the house to aid in the holiday spirit, but alas, they were pipe dreams. I did not make it a priority. And there you have it, friends, in a nutshell, the truth that I realized about Christmas this year. Sprucing up the house and making things cheery and bright is not something that just happens. It takes mental do-it-ness. It takes setting aside time, despite the daily activities that must be seen to. I was so determined to make decorating a family event that I put everything off until the evening hours when Joshua was home, when life really gets hectic what with dinner preparations and eating as a family, the kids cleaning up their toys from the day, and the bedtime routine. I kept waiting for a 'silent night' rather than a normal night, thinking that decorating our little home would just happen.

It doesn't work that way. I have to come to terms with the fact that my three year old, my two year old, and my nine month old do not understand that the true meaning of Christmas is throwing tinsel and lights at all things stationary, draping greenery along any flat surface, changing out pictures and books and knick-knacks (because we have soooooo many sitting out). They don't get that the holiday spirit must be boosted with crimson and green, rich foods, music we only pull out for a month, and the hustle and bustle that makes ones head spin.

No, all they care about is that their food shows up on the table at about the right time each day, that their behinds get cleaned occasionally (but not to often, it interrupts the play, you see), and that their Mommy and Daddy are close at hand to love them and tuck them in and keep the bad things at bay.

So my kids are perfectly happy with the holiday cards scattered about and the tree that gets to live inside with lights and construction paper on it. They had a blast with opening gifts, and thanks to gaining some wisdom from last year's mega haul, were not overwhelmed with toys and new things. Stocking stuffers and three or four gifts each was plenty sufficient. And what about Santa? Well, they didn't even seem to care that he ate ALL FIFTEEN COOKIES they baked for him. In fact, they weren't at all sure they wanted him to come Christmas Eve and leave gifts for them under the tree. They conceded, stating that they did not want to see him again. Tough audience, let me tell you.

Christmas is over. We were out and about yesterday, and I was reeling at how quickly those store decorations come down and go on sale. After looking at them since August, I had become rather comforted by the sight of them. The radio station that plays 'All Christmas all the time' reverted back to 'The Best of the 70's, 80's, and Today!', leaving a bit of a whole in my heart. I love Christmas music, and was not yet tired of it. We went to eat at Atlanta Bread Company last night, though, and I was gratified to see the Christmas tree still up and jazzy Christmas crooners were still wafting from the speakers.

Yes, Christmas is over. I miss the excitement and delight that youth brings to Christmas. I failed to create that atmosphere for my children this year. It is a lesson learned, and I vow to work harder next year. I realize now that making the house festive is something that the kids do not have to be a part of yet. If it does not interest them, then it is certainly something that I can handle doing on my own. And it is certainly worth the investment of my time.

I know that Christmas is a celebration of Christ's birth and the life that He led, bringing the word Missionary to life. (Who else but God in His love and grace would have sent His Son to another WORLD! to help, to die even, for so many silly people?) I understand that Christmas is not about presents and foods, trees and lights, but about love and a Night like no other.

But the trimmings do cozy up a home and create a good kind of frenzy for the little ones. Next year, my friends, I will ensure that my children, my husband, and myself have that fun and special coziness in our house.

For this year, well, I guess it makes for easy clean up, eh?


Stacia said...

Don't worry the day is coming soon when Thomas will be asking to put up everything that is Christmas. Jonathan is 5 1/2 and it was a big deal this year to get the Christmas tree up and the decorations out. And it seems for now the important things are taken care of. Nicholas didn't like Santa either.

Shelley said...

I wouldn't worry about them not being that interested in Santa. My kids got him confused with Jesus when they were little, and made me wish we'd never even done the Santa thing. Hopefully, you will find the right balance. They do have fun "playing Santa" (doing secret nice things for others) now that they are older.